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Writing Quality Content is a Key Skill for any Internet Marketer

This is by no means a complete guide, but rather some starting tips or techniques for how to write for the web.

Research – Know your topic!

This sounds obvious, but the number of people who attempt to write about stuff they don’t understand astounds me! Good writers are informed writers. We’re not talking about becoming experts here, just a solid grounding in the topic. Sites like Wikipedia are great for getting a subject overview (remember this information isn’t always 100%!). A few good hours of Google searching is a must. Use their new “Wonder Wheel” (click on the “show options” tab above your search results) to generate mind-map like structures of related search terms to help you explore the different facets of a topic.

When I need to write about a completely new subject, I set aside at least 3 or 4 hours of solid reading (doesn’t have to be all at once!) to learn about the topic. You don’t have to do this every time you write something. You’ll find the knowledge you gain from one good stint of reading can be used to write multiple articles. Take particular note of the style of writing and the kinds of pages that show up in your search results. This will be the kind of content you want to emulate when you start writing. Note I said emulate not copy! Be very careful to avoid plagiarism. Not only is there potential for legal consequences, but Google will slap you silly if they notice you have plagiarized content on your site.

Start with the title

Forget about trying to outline your entire piece of writing first; when writing for the web I like to start with a title . What this does is ensure you are crystal clear about the direction of the article from the beginning, making it much easier to write fluently and stick to the point.

Bear in mind that people surfing the web spend mere seconds on any given page, so don’t try to accomplish too much in a single article. It’s better to explore one or two core ideas rather than branch into multiple sub topics. Five hundred to eight hundred words is typically considered the optimum for web articles, and while that sounds like a lot, you’ll be surprised at how hard it is to say anything good in such a small amount of space!

If you find yourself going off on a tangent in your writing, don’t ever delete it! Copy and paste it into a new document and leave it for another time. Good words and ideas are precious, and having a collection of small snippets of writing can be very useful for future articles.

Don’t think, just write

Easy to say, hard to do – but “just writing” is possibly one of the best writing techniques I’ve ever known. Little is more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper or a blank document on your computer, so it’s important to get something down rather than critique every sentence as you write it. Once you have a grounding in your topic and a good title as a starting point, stop thinking and start writing. Don’t worry whether you’re writing is good or not. At this stage you’re just focusing on getting out a first draft. (Just Google what the noted writer Ernest Hemingway said about first drafts for a rather un-inspirational quote on the subject.) Even if your writing is really bad to start with, you’ll find it easier to tidy up a bad draft than spend hour upon hour painstakingly perfecting each sentence. More often than not you’ll discover that 10% to 20% of what you’ve written isn’t actually too bad anyway. By taking these good parts and expanding them, you can turn that 20% good content into 50% good content, and then that 50% into 90%!

Another technique that I have had a lot of success with is writing two separate drafts from scratch. I write a complete first draft, print it out and then delete it off my computer. I put the first draft in a draw and write a second draft without looking at the first. By deleting the first draft, you force yourself to approach the piece from the start, except this time you’re brain’s already warmed up and your thoughts are more organized! Once I’ve done a second draft I’ll take my first out and mine it for any particularly good sentences that I want to keep – but I typically find that my second piece of writing is significantly better than my first.

It gets easier!

Some of these techniques may seem really time consuming, but the good news is you don’t need to use them all for every article you write. If you’re writing 20 or 30 articles for a site you’ll likely find that after the first two articles or so you get into a kind of ‘flow’ and the words just start coming.

Writing’s like anything – practice makes perfect. While there are some naturally gifted writers, anyone can teach themselves to write good basic content that people (and search engines) will enjoy.

… if all you can think off is “But I’m not a writer!” You can pay someone to write your articles for you.

There are a number of websites that connect publishers (like you) with freelance writers. One popular site is Elance! Just post a project and writers (“Elancers”) will “bid” for the job, offering to write X number of articles for Y dollars per article. At the bottom end of the scale you can spend around $5 per article. Typically, the more you spend, the higher the quality of the writing…

Enjoy your writing!

Heide Holtz

SmarterSites.net

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FasterWeb Wants To Make The Entire Web Up To Ten Times Faster In 2010

As the web matures, it’s also getting more complex. Yet much of it is still fundamentally based on things like HTML which are 30 years old. A new startup, FasterWeb, aims to bring these old technologies up to speed — as it were — making the web faster, by optimizing the old standards for doing new things. And in doing so, it claims that it can increase the performance of any site by 2 to 10 times — something which would obviously be a huge leap forward, if it can deliver.

One VC firm, YL Ventures, believes that it can. And they’ve seen it in action, so we’ll just have to take their word for it, for now. We spoke with Yoav Andrew Leitersdorf, managing parter at YL, and he tells us that the different between the regular web versus a site optimized with FasterWeb, is pretty staggering. And that’s why his firm had no hesitation in pouring an undisclosed amount of money into the Israeli-based venture.

So how does FasterWeb claim to work? Leitersdorf wouldn’t go into the details, saying that’s the company’s secret, but he would say that it uses 45 different techniques to optimize the web. He also said that this is done either on the end of the content provider or the ISP. In other words, the end user doesn’t have to do a thing to experience the increase in web speed. And FasterWeb will work across all the major web browsers, starting with Internet Explorer and Firefox immediately, and expanding to the rest, including Opera, Chrome and Safari, when it’s ready for its widespread release next year.

But some sites won’t have to wait until next year to get the speed boost. Over the next several weeks, the first sites optimized with FasterWeb will begin hitting our browsers, Leitersdorf says. He would not say which ones, but notes that some will be known entities in the U.S. and worldwide.

And all of this will work for the mobile web too. “That’s one of the biggest opportunities here,” Leitersdorf says. He went on to note that they’re thinking a lot about mobile ISPs in particular.

Obviously, a two to ten fold increase in speed is a big difference, but Leitersdorf notes that the more complex a page is, the higher the magnitude of optimization will be. This optimization occurs across HTTP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS and images on a page, to achieve the results.

The business model for the project seems sound as well. FasterWeb has a multi-pronged approach depending on the situation of the website or ISP. That means it can either charge a one-time fee, or do a revenue sharing model. “What we found out as a VC fund going into this business is that by selling this to websites, it’s going to increase their revenues. And these sites are willing to spend 20-30% of their increase in revenues on our solution,” Leitersdorf says.

He also notes that in their research, YL only found two companies even come close to doing what these guys are doing. But Leitersdorf declined to name them. Seeing as this is all on the backend, and requires nothing from the consumers, it seems safe to assume this will be significantly better than something like the Google Web Accelerator toolbar.

Naturally, all of this sounds great, but it will be another thing to deliver on a massive scale across much of the web. “We’ve talked to the customers, they’re excited. But FasterWeb wants to make sure they’re ready,” according to Leitersdorf. And that’s why we won’t see wide-scale deployment until next year.

The Israel-based FasterWeb was started by Ofer Gadish, Gil Shai, Ofir Ehrlich and Leonid Fainberg.

Source: TechCrunch.com

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Google Chrome: Redefining The Operating System

Tehcnology, the web, computers… everything around us is changing so fast. We are stepping into the new generation already, computers will not have a hard drive, programs will be web applications. SmarterSites is part of these new wave, Smart Panel and Smart Toolbar are two clear examples. More info on SmarterSites.net

Expect to see millions of web devices, even desktop web devices, in the coming years that completely strip out the Windows layer and use the browser as the only operating system the user needs.

“The Chrome browser now has 30 million active users, says Google, and tracking services say it has 6% or so market share. Not bad for a browser that’s less than a year old.

And now, WOW. Google just bolted a big ol’ bag of drivers (also known as the Linux kernel) to Chrome and are calling it the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s going to be hard for people to continue to deny its operating systemness now.
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Google Finally Peels The Beta Label Off Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and GTalk

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The beta days are over at Google, at least for some of its most popular applications. As we predicted two months ago, Google is finally taking the beta label off of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and GTalk today. And it is about time. For instance, Gmail, which launched five years ago and is by far Google’s most popular non-search app, is already older than many startups.

Gmail is now one of the leading email services and can no longer hide under the cover of a beta label. Over the past year in the U.S. alone, according to comScore, Gmail has grown 48 percent to 36 million unique visitors, quickly gaining on AOL Mail (40 million uniques, down down 6 percent) and Windows Live Hotmail (46 million uniques, down 1 percent) to grab the No. 2 spot after still-safe Yahoo Mail (98 million uniques, up 13 percent). Worldwide, Gmail had 146 million visitors in May, about half of Yahoo Mail’s and Hotmail’s numbers, and about three times bigger than AOL Mail.

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What´s coming… Google Wave, could it be used to Work-from-Home?

At SmarterSites we are always searching for the best productivity tools, to work from home, from the office, or while on the road. So, is Google Wave going to be suitable just for your daily tasks, entertainment… or is there more to it.

We ar definitely excited about it. Here is how the whole idea came up:

“After months holed up in a conference room in the Sydney office, our five-person “startup” team emerged with a prototype. And now, after more than two years of expanding our ideas, our team, and technology, we’re very eager to return and see what the world might think. Today we’re giving developers an early preview of Google Wave.

A “wave” is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

Here’s how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it.

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